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If I wanted to pay homage to a sci-fi author, could I use his or her species in my story? (For example, Andalites from Animorphs; Formics from Ender's Game; describing a species that looks like Yoda or E.T.) Could I mention that species by name in passing? Could I hint by description that I'm alluding to a particular species? Could I get an author's permission to feature a character who is a member of that species? At what point would I be crossing a line?

  • There are quite a few similar questions on this site, e.g. writers.stackexchange.com/questions/14733/… Please use the site search and see if those questions and their answers address your question. – user5645 Jun 25 '15 at 6:00
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Yes you can as long as it isn't the main focus. If in doubt, you may want try to contact the author ask for permission. That's what I did. Never got a response but at least I tried.

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Using another author's created species is something fanfic authors do all the time. It is legally something of a grey area in Anglosphere legal systems (I don't know anything about the situation elsewhere) - but in the last ten years the amount of fanfic has exploded beyond the ability of anyone to police it, even if they wanted to. It's when and if you start to make any money out of your story that your legal problems may start.

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